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3 May, 2023 07:55

Ukrainian hitmen busted in Crimea – FSB

The military intelligence agents had allegedly planned to assassinate top Russian officials

A Ukrainian military intelligence plot to assassinate top Russian officials in Crimea has been thwarted by the Federal Security Service (FSB). The agency reportedly busted a connected terrorist ring that may also have sabotaged a railway in February.

An FSB statement released on Wednesday said the group’s ringleader was Roman Mashovets, a public figure in Ukraine who serves as an officer of the GUR, the country’s military intelligence agency. He is also deputy head of the office of President Vladimir Zelensky.

Mashovets is a close associate of GUR chief Kirill Budanov, who had recruited six Russian and Ukrainian citizens for the operation in Crimea, the FSB claimed, naming each suspect. The group was tasked with preparing hits on senior officials, including the head of the Republic of Crimea, the chair of the region’s parliament, and the mayor of Yalta. The team had also allegedly planned sabotage operations on transport infrastructure.

The Ukrainian agents had an established smuggling channel, which allowed them to obtain explosives, detonators, tracking devices and other equipment, the FSB said.

The Russian agency reportedly seized five improvised explosive devices, 6kg of British-made plastic explosives, and other incriminating items during the raid. Footage of the operation also showed several handgrenades apparently discovered at one location.

The seized explosives were identical to those used in the sabotage of a railway in Crimea on February 23, the statement noted. This incident happened in Bakhchisaray district and disrupted traffic on the peninsula, according to reports at the time.

The alleged trafficking route went from Bulgaria via Türkiye and Georgia and involved three Ukrainian nationals and a Bulgarian citizen identified by the FSB as D. Petranov. He was arrested in Crimea along with the members of the Ukrainian ring, according to the statement. The smuggled equipment was hidden in electric cooking stoves, the agency claimed.